Ammoniacum or the gum ammoniac is a gum–resin exuded from the several perennial herbs in the genus Ferula of the umbel family (Apiaceae). There are three types of ammoniacum: the gums ammoniac of Cyrenaica, of Persia (the commercial one today), and of Morocco.
Ammoniacum or Gum Ammoniacum is an aromatic resin named for its long association with the Oracle of the Temple of Ammon. Originally located in Siwa Libya, the temple was an important religious center for the Egyptians and the ancient Greeks,
Believed to be the preferred incense to petition the oracle for answers, Ammoniacum is thought to have served the same purpose at the Greek oracle at Delphi. The name has persisted even though the oracles are no longer used as they once were.
Also known as Oshek or Veshek, Ammoniacum is burned to this day in the Moroccan Jewish tradition before the holy scrolls are removed from the temple ark.
Ammoniacum has a lovely “green” fragrance, similar to, but softer and sweeter than that of its cousin Galbanum which is used in perfumery. Where Galbanum has a green and very dry scent, Ammoniacum has a fragrance that could be described as golden green, fresh, penetrating and nourishing.
It tastes bitter and pungent though this might be due to its high essential oil content.
Ammoniacum has been used since antiquity to treat respiratory issues, excess phlegm, asthma, chronic coughs and bronchitis and is said to soften hard tumours when applied as a poultice. It is considered a carminative, stimulating appetite and peristalsis which could be useful for the elderly. It may have a stimulating effect on the uterus and likely should not be taken during pregnancy. I found chewing on a small piece of the resin was pleasant and had the effect of stimulating the expectoration of phlegm, easing my breathing and soothing a stubborn cough.
Energetically, the Ferula family is ruled by the wind.
This is not only indicated by how they address flatulence, but because they all seem to be connected with the function of communication from an oracular and divinatory perspective, opening gateways in perception and traditionally used when working with or petitioning the Djinn.
One could classify them under the rule of Mercury.
Ammoniacum is still used as an incense ingredient in the East and in traditional medicine.
With its unique fragrance profile, it could provide an interesting addition to the perfumer’s palette as a tincture or essential oil.
Botanical Name: Dorema ammoniacum
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